Do the people around you know that you are a Christian? If they don’t, why not? In this sermon, R.C. Sproul continues his expositional series in the gospel of Luke and calls us to live as the light of the world.
We continue this morning with our study of the Gospel According to Saint Luke. We are still in chapter 8, and I will read today from Luke 8:16–21:
“No one, when he has lit a lamp, covers it with a vessel or puts it under a bed, but sets it on a lampstand, that those who enter may see the light. For nothing is secret that will not be revealed, nor anything hidden, that will not be known and come to light. Therefore take heed how you hear. For whoever has, to him more will be given; and whoever does not have, even what he seems to have will be taken from him.”
Then His mother and brothers came to Him, and could not approach Him because of the crowd. And it was told Him by some, who said, “Your mother and Your brothers are standing outside, desiring to see You.”
But He answered and said to them, “My mother and My brothers are these who hear the word of God and do it.”
This brief parable adds to the larger parable of the sower that we considered a couple of weeks ago. In this text, Jesus further elucidates the significance of that larger parable. What you have heard this morning comes to us from the lips of our Lord. It is His wisdom. It is His truth that comes with the full measure of His authority. Please receive it as such. Let us pray.
Our Father, when we hear parables, at times they seem almost incomprehensible. Without the illumination of Your Spirit, we cannot grasp them fully. But we ask that, in this hour, Your Spirit may stoop to our weakness and grant us clarity of understanding. For we ask it in Jesus’ name. Amen.
A Wick Ignited with Flame
When we looked at the parable of the sower, sometimes called “the parable of the soil,” Jesus explained that the seed was the Word of God sown in various places. He explained how some of that seed fell on rocky soil, some upon the hard path next to the field, and some among the thorns. Finally, that which fell upon the good soil took root and did not die out quickly, but rather came to fruition, bearing fruit in abundance. Of course, Jesus was saying that those who hear the Word, if that Word takes root in their souls, will bring forth fruit.
To further amplify that point our Lord was making, He gave the smaller parable of the lamp, in which He said, “No one, when he has lit a lamp, covers it with a vessel or puts it under a bed, but rather puts it on a lampstand, so that it can illumine the dark place of the house.”
I brought an artifact with me to use as a brief object lesson, and it is a small object that is over two thousand years old—an authentic lamp from ancient Israel. The shape of it is like a simple piece of pottery, like a saucer that has its front pinched together. Oil would go in the saucer, and a wick would float on the oil in the front of the lamp where it is pinched together. The wick would then be ignited with flame. This tiny lamp was used to illumine a dark room. I do not know how much light was created by a little lamp like this, but it is not the kind of thing that would intimidate Thomas Alva Edison. It is not the kind of device that we use to bring light into the darkness of our homes at night. It had very little power of illumination.
As little as the lamp was, Jesus said, “Once someone has put the flame to the wick in this lamp, nobody in his right mind would then put something over it like a bushel or put it under the bed, because that would quench all the light from such a lamp. If someone wanted any usefulness from it, he would put it on a stand where it would be elevated, where the maximum amount of light would go into the darkness of the room.”
It does not require rocket science to understand the simplicity of the point that Jesus made. If the light that comes from the Word of God takes root in your soul, as Jesus explained in the parable of the sower, it is truth that must never be hidden. As we understand the Word of God and it takes root in our hearts, we are not to put it under a bushel or hide it under the bed. Rather, we are to put it in a place of prominence, where it can be made manifest and seen clearly by all.
All Shall Be Revealed
Jesus went on to say, “Nothing is secret that will not be revealed, nor anything hidden that will not be known and come to light.” In this text, Jesus was referring to the day of judgment, which will be the day of great epiphany. It will be the day when all truth will be revealed and made clear.
Jesus’ statement has two sides to it, a positive and a negative. The positive side is that, on the day of judgment, the Word of God will be manifested clearly and finally as the truth. Every mouth will be stopped, and no one will be able to gainsay the truth claims of Christ. The reality that Christ is the Son of God and the Savior will be so clear and plain that everybody who repudiates that claim, everybody who rejects that truth, will be put to utter shame.
So, the good news is that, in that grand epiphany, the truth will be demonstrated to be the truth once and for all, and every lie and falsehood will be destroyed. But the downside is that the secrets of men’s hearts, the things that we do in darkness, the things that we seek to hide from the world, will all come into open view. That is a scary thought, is it not?
It has been said that there are skeletons in everybody’s closet. There are things about us that we would not want the whole world to know. Think for a moment of those things in your life that you would most like to keep secret forever. You need to know that keeping them secret forever is impossible. Not only will the truth about the gospel be made clearly known, but so will the truth about me and the truth about you—the whole truth will be made known.
Nothing that is hidden will remain hidden. Everything concealed now will be revealed then. This is not good news to sinful people, because the Word of God tells us that we are not by nature the children of light but the children of darkness. John tells us in his gospel that by nature we prefer the darkness to the light because our deeds are evil. That is why we choose the darkness rather than the light.
This problem is not something new. It began in the garden of Eden. I like to refer to it as “Eden-gate” because after the very first act of transgression, Adam and Eve’s initial response to their sin was shame and awareness of their nakedness. Their first action, the Bible says, was that they hid themselves.
What were they hiding from? I should really ask, Who were they hiding from? The answer is obvious. They were hiding from God. Previously, they were delighted when God walked in the coolness of the garden and they rushed to enjoy His fellowship. After they sinned, however, they did not want God to see them. So, they hid. They searched for the darkness. They wanted a place where they could be concealed, hidden from the view of God.
Dear friends, we might think there is nothing sillier than to light a lamp and put a bushel basket over it or hide it under the bed. However, there is something sillier, and that is thinking we can find a place where we can hide from Almighty God. No such space exists. We could go into the darkest hole in the universe and still not escape the gaze of God.
People of the Light
The psalmist says in Psalm 139: “O Lord, search me and know me. See if there be any wicked way within me.” He says: “O Lord, You know every word that I say, and before a word is even formed on my lips, You know it altogether. Where shall I flee from Your Spirit? If I ascend into heaven, Thou art there. If I make my bed in hell, behold Thou art there. Thou knowest me altogether.”
In the New Testament, Jesus said of the last judgment that every idle word we have ever spoken will be brought into judgment. Think about that. We are going to have to own up to every casual, cavalier, off-the-cuff remark that we have ever made, not to mention the carefully devised lies and angry statements that we have made injudiciously.
Everything will come into judgment because our Lord said, “There is nothing hidden that will not be revealed.” That “nothing” is not a little something. Nothing that is hidden now will remain hidden. These are sobering words. Jesus was saying to us and to His disciples: “Live in the light. Let the truth be in the light. Don’t hide the Word of God. Don’t hide yourself from the Word of God.”
We are called to be people of the light, people who have received the truth of God, people who have been commissioned to proclaim the truth of God and let it be known. Does everybody who knows you know that you are a Christian? I hope that if they do, it is not because you are obnoxious about it. But I hope that they know it, because there can be no such thing as a “Secret Service Christian.”
People used to talk about “Clairol Christians.” Only their hairdresser knows for sure that they are believers. The truth is that anybody who knows you should know and appreciate that you are a follower of Christ. If they do not know you are, it may be because the light you have received has gone under the couch or the bushel. We cannot do that. The truth of God is the light of the world, and we are called to be people of the light.
Adopted Brothers and Sisters
Finally, as Jesus finished His teaching, somebody interrupted Him and said: “Master, we’re sorry to interrupt you, but you have some people outside that are waiting to see you. Your mother and your brothers would like to see you. They desire to spend some time with you.” Jesus rebuked them and made this strange statement: “Who are My brothers and sisters? Who is My mother?”
Jesus was not disowning His mother or His earthly brothers and sisters, but He said, “My brothers and sisters are those who hear My Word and do it.” I hate to pass over this so quickly, but this was a brilliant statement of one of the most important doctrines set forth in the New Testament. This is the doctrine of adoption by which, through the grace of God, everyone who puts their faith in Christ is adopted into the family of God. Jesus calls us His brothers and His sisters, and we are adopted by the heavenly Father.
This transcript has been lightly edited for readability.